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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Rare Books and Rare Baseball Cards

Millar, An Historical View... London, 1787.
The Riesenfeld Center has been very fortunate over the holiday season to receive several wonderful gifts. These include a set of "Supreme Court Sluggers" cards that money cannot buy (at least from the manufacturer), rare books surviving in only a few copies, and an 18th-century indenture that is both decorative and historically interesting.

We are very grateful for Professor David Weissbrodt's donation of an extremely rare first edition of law professor, historian and Enlightenment philosopher John Millar's An Historical View of the English Government (London, 1787), and an expanded edition of the work. The first edition comes in its original boards with untrimmed edges, preserving its historical look, and has the autograph of a likely owner, George Botts, scrawled across the cover in a large hand. Millar was a friend of Adam Smith and professor of law at the University of Glasgow for almost forty years. Professor Weissbrodt also gifted a fine early edition of Millar's most recognized work, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (London, 1781). Finally, we received from Weissbrodt a terrific example of a large 18th-century indenture, a contract so-called because of its jagged "teeth," by which it could be reunited (and thus legally validated) with its counterpart documents, forming an original whole.    

Our new "Supreme Court Sluggers" cards also deserve mention. Not unlike the popular Supreme Court bobbleheads (also produced by the Green Bag), the Sluggers feature Supreme Court justices past and present, printed on baseball cards. Each one comes with a quote from a decision included on a stick of "Thought Bubble Gum," and a useful tally of opinions in a stats table on back. As the Green Bag says, "We make no promises about when we will make them or who will get them. Indeed, we are avowedly and aggressively arbitrary and capricious about distribution." Fans of the bobbleheads will know that the rules are similar there. But in that case, to increase the odds of acquiring a bobblehead, the Green Bag offers a quiz -- happy hunting, and Happy Holidays and New Year!

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

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